Thursday, April 07, 2005

Startling the Rich

Wow! I have to admit I was pretty impressed to hear that the World Bank President James Wolfensohn recently visited the Pine Ridge Reservation. For those that don't know, Pine Ridge has long been considered "the poorest of the poor". emcompassing the two poorest counties in the United States. That's right. Not Detriot. Not the Bronx. Not some dusty border town in Texas. Pine Ridge.

Wolfensohn is finishing up his second 10 yr term as head of the World Bank, and in his speech on the rez he said "the dignity, culture and rights of indigenous people must be respected in programs created by the World Bank". Indeed! To that end, he's created a Global Fund for Indigenous Peoples that will give small grants for sustainable projects, pilot programs to strengthen indigenous organizations, and financial support to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

He also added that he was "startled" by the level of poverty indigenous Americans face in this very very wealthy country. You're not alone, James. I think most Americans would be startled at the level of poverty on the reservations. Some quick facts from the US Census Bureau.

Median household money income, 2001 model-based estimate§ $25,313 $20,916 $35,282 $41,994
Per capita money income, 1999 $10,106 $6,286 $17,562 $21,587
Persons per household, 2000 3.14 4.36 2.50 2.59
Persons below poverty level, percent, 1999 model-based estimate§ 39.2% 52.3% 13.2% 12.4%
Children below poverty level, percent, 1997 model-based estimate§ 46.5% 46.2% 19.0% 19.9%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, Year 2000 52.1% 94.2% 8.3% 0.9%

Source of above statistics: US Census Bureau, State and County Quick Facts
(, found at
§Includes everyone in the county, not just Lakota people
Includes persons reporting only one race.

But your visit and your determination left me feeling pretty positive, James! I think the World Bank's really gonna take Native Americans into consideration now. I think things are gonna change!

Then I read Wolfensohn is being replaced by Paul Wolfowitz on June 1. Uh, nevermind.


Blogger Sylvana said...

I was wondering if there was some significance to the name of your blog. I really like the image of the marigold, especially with the black background.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous sideshow bob said...

Hmmm....a rich white president of a bank is surprised at the poverty of minority groups?
Uh, yeah, guys, that's part of the problem, for anyone with any interest at all in indigenous people and poverty, there is a wealth of information, recommendations, etc. that they could investigate. But for some reason, they never do. Until they are lame duck presidents of the world bank unable to do anything about it.

Should we be at all concerned that the only people they have running this thing have the word 'wolf' in their name?

4:24 PM  
Blogger themarigoldtrail said...

I was wondering if there was some significance to the name of your blog.

In the Mexica tradition, people would leave trails of marigolds for the dead to follow to find their way home. (You can see this tradition continue in modern-day Dias De Los Muertos celebrations.) So this blog is like my living trail of marigolds that my ancestors can follow to find me, and that I follow to find them. The name represents my connection and commitment to my heritage and to my ancestors.

10:47 AM  
Blogger themarigoldtrail said...

Hi Bob! (excellent name, btw)

I think most non-Natives are startled by life on the Rez. Since gaming starting, there seems to be this perception that Indians are suddenly all rich and livin high on casino profits. But that is simply not true. Very few tribes actually have casinos and most casinos have yet to return sizeable profits to tribal members. But in our world, perception is king, and as long as Indians are invisible to the mainstream, I'm afraid little happen to change situations like the one on Pine Ridge. International attention would help, though, since our government seems to care little for these particular citizens.

Should we be at all concerned that the only people they have running this thing have the word 'wolf' in their name?

You gotta wonder if that's just conincidence, don't you? :) Although 'coyote' would probably be more appropriate.

10:55 AM  

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